2020 came and went with nearly all the year’s line-ups cancelled but hopefully 2021 will see a big comeback. In the meantime why not come up with your own Aussie festival inspiration and throw a festival themed gathering at home with your mates. Queue up the tunes, it is time to celebrate the beautiful Australian summer!
Cruisy festival vibes
Turn your backyard or your living room (with permission, of course) into a private festival with these tips and tricks. Want to throw an awesome picnic for a birthday or just an end of year party?
- Find some leftover jars, candles and scrap material to make a decorative centre piece for your tables. Cut up scrap material into strips and tie them around or glue them to an old pasta sauce jar (with a wide mouth). Place a tea candle inside and you’ve got an easy centrepiece.
- Go to the op-shop or raid the linen closet, all you need is swaths of material or old picnic blankets or rugs. Layer these on the ground and scatter any cushions around that you do not mind getting a little dirty.
- Create a "VIP" space or a private area by pitching a tent. An old camping tent, a tipi style tent or a gazebo would work great. Fill it with solar fairy lights or torches, pillows, blankets and snacks. Candles and flammable surfaces don’t go well together so keep them out of enclosed spaces.
- Want a more organised space to gather around and eat? Make a pallet table. Ask around and see if you can get some pallets for free, sand them or investigate any loose nails or sharp pieces and chuck them in the backyard on your picnic "rugs". Make some rustic table runners with some old burlap and put your candle centrepieces in the middle.
- Make homemade bubbles that do not require buying a whole tray of plastic bottles?
- DIY flower crowns and face painting
- DIY photo booth with props
- Homemade Festival VIP bracelets
- Temporary tattoo station
- DIY tie-dye station
- Create a festival playlist together
BBQ Big Day In
Want something more relaxed? Throw on some tunes and grab some snags, it is time for a backyard BBQ.
- Have a buffet style lunch or dinner – everyone brings a plate of a different kind of food (one person brings salad, another person brings proteins or dessert).
- Do not worry about fancy glassware or single use plastic cups – use leftover jars, mason jars or glasses from the kitchen and create a drinks station with homemade iced tea, an esky full of ice and soft drinks for people to grab themselves. If you’ve got a small chalkboard and some chalk around, write up a quirky message or a small menu for your drinks station.
- Create your own "Hottest 100" party and create a playlist together – vote for your favourites and give a prize to the person who picks the winner.
- If it is a really hot day, grab the sprinkler or water pistols– you are never too old for a water fight. Or spring for a clam shell from the hardware store and have a very small pool party.
- Organise some games – start simple with a pack of cards or go for a classic outdoor games like egg and spoon or three legged races.
- Fruit kebabs
- Sunscreen station
- String lights
- Play "Murder in the dark" with torches
Borrow these books to help with decorating, food and drink ideas:
- Macrame décor: 25 boho-chic patterns and project ideas
- Bubble tea book
- Grazing boards
- Barbecue this!: get more out of your BBQ with 80 delicious new recipes by Luke Hines
- Celebrate summer by Annabel Langbein
- P.S. – you’re invited – 40+ DIY projects for all of your fashions, home décor and entertaining needs by Erica Domesek
- Happy home outside: everyday magic for outdoor life by Charlotte Hedeman Gueniau
Australian Festival Culture
Australia’s music culture is a big part of everyday life in the sun-burnt country. The first music festival in Australia is said to be the Ourimbah in 1970 – falling on the Australia Day long weekend and attracting 10,000 patrons with local legends Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs, among others, playing.
Discover some of the biggest, past and present (Warning some are strictly 18+ events):
Listen Out is one of Australia’s primary dance music festivals. They tour the country, stopping in Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane and Sydney. Past line-ups include Diplo, Childish Gambino, Flume, Mallrat and Tash Sultana. Although Listen Out is one of Australia’s biggest festivals they do not escape controversy. Listen Out is an 18+ event.
Falls was created in 1993 in Lorne, a surf town along the great ocean road. The idea started when Simon Daly wanted to create a New Year’s Eve celebration that the whole community could enjoy. Its original name was Rock Above the Falls – to draw people that were visiting the nearby waterfall. Expecting a crowd of around 5,000 everyone was shocked when around 11,000 people actually turned up. Today, tickets remain at around 25,000 people. Falls Festival is an 18+ event but under 18s can be accompanied by an eligible adult carer over the age of 25. Watch Lorne Festival highlights from 2012.
Laneway What started as a series of weekly shows at a tiny Melbourne bar has bloomed into one of Australia’s most beloved festival institutions. Across a decade of expansion that has seen the St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival become an international signifier of essential music, the event continues to showcase its original set of values: championing community, fostering collaboration, encouraging self-expression, and finding ongoing excuses to have fun. Laneway Festival (Brisbane) is a 16 years + event. Watch Laneway 2019 highlights.
Splendour In the Grass is an Australian music festival held at the end of July. Splendour was first held in Byron Bay from 2001-2009 at Belongil Fields. In 2010 and 2011 the festival was moved and held in Woodford, Queensland. There was a lot of controversy about this change so in 2012 Splendour returned to the Byron Belongil site, and has since moved yet again to be held at the much larger North Byron Parklands site at Yelgun. Splendour in the Grass is an all age’s event (minors must be accompanied by a guardian). Watch Splendour in the Grass 2018 highlights and Gang of Youths ‘Say Yes to Life’ 2018.
The Woodford Folk Festival is held annually over six days and six nights, from 27 December through to 1 January. More than 2,000 local, national and international, artists, musicians and presenters put on over 438 acts to an audience of an estimated 132,000 people. The festival begins each year with the iconic Opening Ceremony and closes with the spectacular showcase, the Fire Event on New Year’s Day. It is the largest gathering of artists and musicians in Australia. Woodfordia is transformed into a village that hosts over 25,000 daily patrons, performers, stallholders, volunteers and organisers. Woodford is an all age’s event – under 18’s must be accompanied by a legal guardian. Watch Woodford Folk Festival imaging a beautiful future.
Caloundra Music Festival is all sun, surf and big beach vibes. Since 2006 musicians from the Coast, Interstate and around the world have rocked the stages at Kings Beach in Caloundra. Spread over the October long weekend it can accommodate 32,500 music lovers. Visit the official website for featured artist playlists and to find out the latest news. Caloundra Music Festival is an all ages event.
Big Pineapple Music Festival Starting in 2018, The Big Pineapple Music Festival has quickly grown in popularity. Held at the Pineapple Fields in Woombye it is the perfect event to not have to travel too far, dress up and enjoy the sunshine and music. In 2020 it was postponed with the new date for Saturday 22 May. Big Pineapple Music Festival is an 18+ event.
The Big Day Out was a cultural icon, at one point it was the biggest touring music festival in the world. For 22 years it ruled summer, drawing huge international acts like Björk, Sonic Youth, Rage against the Machine, Muse, The Prodigy, Fatboy Slim and Iggy Pop. Local bands like Powderfinger, You Am I, Magic Dirt and Grinspoon cut their teeth on the Big Day Out stages. It became a rite of passage for thousands of music fans who rocked up for their biggest day of the year. It drew crowds as big as 150,000 in Sydney, 2014. Sadly, the Big Day Out was held for the last time in 2014, after being sold to an American festival promoter company. Check out the legacy they left behind. Watch History of the first Big Day Out 1992 and Nirvana – Sydney Big Day Out 1992.
Start prepping for festival season return with these web resources:
- Top 10 safety tips for music festivals
- Reachout.com tools and apps
- Festival safe
- Headspace – Festivals and young people
- Festival culture in Australia – Is it an issue?
Top 10 books to borrow:
- The 100 best Australian albums by John O'Donnell, Toby Creswell and Craig Mathieson
- Cover me: the stories behind the greatest cover songs of all time by Ray Padgett
- Ed Sheeran: writing out loud by Caroline Sullivan
- The history of gangster rap: from Schoolly D to Kendrick Lamar: the rise of a great American art form by Soren Baker
- The long and winding way to the top: fifty (or so) songs that made Australia | Andrew P. Street
- Queen: album by album by Martin Popoff with Chris Caffery
- Why Dylan matters by Richard F. Thomas.
- Why we love music: from Mozart to Metallica - the emotional power of beautiful sounds by John Powell
Go old school and borrow CDs from the library:
- Bad vibes forever / Xxxtentacion
- A bathfull of ecstasy / Hot Chip
- Birds of prey: the album
- Calm / 5 Seconds of Summer
- Chromatica / Lady Gaga
- Circles / Mac Miller
- Dont smile at me / Billie Eilish
- Folklore / Taylor Swift.
- Grammy 2020 nominees
- In a dream / Troye Sivan
Want to stream instead? Go to Freegal music.
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